There’s sympathy in the Bahamas for Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of defunct crypto exchange FTX

Local residents may find it easier to feel sorry for Bankman-Fried, as victims of FTX, who prosecutors say may have lost up to $8 billion ($11.2 billion) from the scam, are unlikely to be killed ) lost, many locals owned. Bahamas residents must apply for special permission from the country’s central bank to invest in cryptocurrency, and the government charges a percentage fee for the privilege.

Fox Hill Prison in the Bahamas where Bankman Fried was held.

Fox Hill Prison in the Bahamas where Bankman Fried was held.Credit:AP

Patrick Ferguson, a 61-year-old painter and longtime resident, crouched on a concrete block in the shade outside Nassau Prison where the one-time prodigy was being held, and said Bankman-Fried’s alleged crimes were compared to those he did in general associate with a harsh prison, time fades. “It just doesn’t make sense,” Ferguson said.

A self-proclaimed standard-bearer for the crypto industry in general, Bankman-Fried worked to diversify the economy of an island long keen to expand beyond tourism and penalized by the decline in visitors caused by COVID-19. 19 pandemic. He helped organize a spring crypto conference that attracted hundreds of well-heeled attendees.

In Albany, the seaside estate where he and his associates lived, they were known to be generous employers; A delivery driver said he was tipped more than $100 to take a modest order from Burger King to a cryptocurrency investor there.

In some cases, residents’ attitudes reflect simple empathy. “I feel sorry for him,” said Philip Butler, an elder at Christian Life Church in Nassau.

‘I’m sorry.’

Church Elder Philip Butler

FTX’s new CEO, John Ray, in a congressional hearing this month accused Bahamian authorities of illegally withdrawing $100 million from the cryptocurrency exchange in the hours leading up to its collapse. Ray called the process “irregular” and said authorities blocked his efforts to get answers. The Bahamas Securities Commission denied this in a statement.

The overall crime rate in the Bahamas is low, but those found guilty often receive lengthy prison terms. Fox Hill, where Bankman-Fried was held, is known locally as “Fox Hell”. It’s packed with 1,400 prisoners — 40 percent more than it was built — and has limited running water, which former prisoners and their families said often leaks brown.

Sean Hall, a former inmate who was released this year, said a typical breakfast consists of grits with sardines scooped into a moldy mug. Unseasoned ground beef with rice is common for lunch. Dinner is often not delivered at all. Violence was the order of the day, both by guards and by fellow inmates.


By Fox Hill standards, Bankman-Fried received royal treatment. He was being held in the prison’s medical wing with up to five inmates in a dormitory-style room, which the administrator said was under constant surveillance. As a vegan, he got toast and jam for breakfast; for lunch and dinner he had steamed leafy greens and other vegetables.

Still, the prison conditions weighed on Bankman-Fried’s decision to strike a deal with US prosecutors to be extradited to the United States, according to a person briefed on the discussions.

Warden Doan Cleare said his former charge was “well taken care of”. Cleare declined to say why Bankman-Fried was being held in the infirmary but said he was not receiving preferential treatment.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times. There’s sympathy in the Bahamas for Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of defunct crypto exchange FTX

Brian Lowry

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